An investigation is underway into the billions of euros missing from Belgian banks that belonged to the late Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi.
This comes after Belgian authorities were accused of paying out interest and dividends on Libyan frozen bank accounts. Belgium is now under fire to explain why unknown recipients received millions of euros from these frozen accounts in Brussels.
“UN documents confirm that Belgium failed to comply with a UN resolution on freezing Libyan assets," Belgian member of parliament Georges Gilkine said, according to public broadcaster RTBF.
UN panel of experts on Libya
The issue returned to the spotlight in September, when a UN panel of experts on Libya concluded that Belgium is in violation of international sanctions, and argued that releasing the funds “could lead to the misuse and misappropriation of funds,” according to online political magazine, Politico.
After Gaddafi’s death in 2011, the UN ruled that the dictator's assets in four Belgian banks be frozen. However, interests and dividends from these assets were not blocked, leaving between three and five billion euros in these accounts since 2012.
The Libyan Investment Authority informed the UN panel that frozen assets amounted to approximately $35 billion in December 2010.
The investigation by Politico has also discovered that money from Gaddafi’s €16 billion of frozen assets had been flowing into accounts in Bahrain and Luxembourg regularly between 2011 and 2017.
Now lawmakers are seeking answers to find out why enormous payments have flowed from frozen bank accounts to unknown beneficiaries? They also want to know who those beneficiaries are.
Politico is also investigating the possibility of the funds arming shipments to Africa militia as well as aiding human trafficking crimes.
Belgium's Liberal Prime Minister Charles Michel’s administration is now under pressure to answer questions after the public broadcaster RTBF made the link with the Politico’s investigation.
Euronews has reached out to the Belgian Ministry of Finance and is awaiting comment.
Who was Muammar Gaddafi?
Muammar Gadaffi governed Libya from 1977 to 2011.
He was initially committed to Arab nationalism, he ruled for the greater part of his tenure according to his own Third International Theory, which is the idea of an alternative to capitalism and communism for Third World countries.
Gadaffi's 42 years in power came to an end in 2011 after years of hunger and violence caused the Arab Spring uprising to sweep ideas of revolution throughout North Africa and into the Middle East.
The dictator died in the streets of his hometown of Sirte, Libya at the hands of a rebel mob.